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I'm a friendly enough sort of chap ... I'm not a hostile person to meet. But I think it's important to realise that when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.
Richard Dawkins

Accommodationism in terms of modern rationalism or atheism refers to the belief that some sort of "common ground" can be found between believers in magical and supernatural things and those who hold the scientific method and methodological naturalism as humanity's best tools to describe the universe.


Atheist accommodationists maintain that those who have religious or magical ideas which are closer to scientific reality should not be subject to the same level of rational criticism as that which is leveled at believers in creationism and others who utterly reject scientific evidence. Accomodationists will usually favour discussion, engagement, and pragmatic unity with religious groups who appear to condemn or combat extremism, even if doing so requires the pragmatic suspension of criticism towards those groups for their faith-based beliefs. Most accommodationists do not actively promote religion, though a few, like Chris Stedman, do.[1]

Accomodationists argue that an individual's religious belief or lack thereof is irrelevant, unless that belief becomes disruptive to others. Individuals like Karen Armstrong who believe that God is wholly transcendent are generally regarded as harmless or potential allies, since their theology largely renders God irrelevant anyways. Accommodationists may find common ground with others who are less critical of atheism than Karen Armstrong. By contrast, those whose beliefs are actively disruptive pose a much greater threat.

The position of the atheist accommodationists can be contrasted with that of some of the New Atheists, who maintain that all faith-based ideas are counter to scientific thought and should be criticized. Well-known New Atheists include Richard Dawkins and Paul Zachary Myers.


Many accommodationists feel that "respect" should be given to religious ideas because they are sincerely held by the person who holds them, appear to provide them with an ethical framework that could potentially support humanist decisions, and that aggressively criticizing these beliefs may decrease the willingness of those who hold them to engage with atheist or humanist arguments. Furthermore, many religious people feel that the failure to show such respect undermines the moral position of critics of religion.

In contrast, many other atheists maintain that "respect" should be earned and be generated as a consequence of an individual being able to clearly explain and defend their beliefs as empirically justified, rather than effective in shaping 'good' behaviour regardless of factual accuracy.


The question of how, or if, accommodationism should be addressed within the rationalist/atheist community is one of the bigger issues in the community today. Indeed, both "sides" sometimes appear on this very wiki.

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